By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) I’m not really sure what any of that was, but I damn well know I liked it.
It was something familiar and disappointing for a while, the old kind of one-sided affair that used to be the norm. A vintage Super Bowl, for those of us of a certain age. We know how to handle it – feel free to zone out a bit, concentrating more energy into eating and figuring out what the overdone commercials are trying to sell us.
Even the halftime show was a pleasant tableau, easy on eyes and ears. The sports part of the evening was over, so it was easy to appreciate some pure, well-produced entertainment. Second-half kick goes back 108 for a record-tying TD, and the gears had shifted. Viewer cruise control.
Then the reboot.
Lights out, power off. New game. Like shutting down the PC, or obeying the official suggestion of the online tech at DirecTV to just unplug the receiver for 30 seconds so everything will be magically different.
And to think we had just concluded the strangest, wonkiest two weeks in the long history of pre-Super-Bowl chatter, many of us gleefully lapping up chalkboard talk as some kind of refuge from the fraternal Harbaugh stories, the loony spectacle of fake tough-guy Ray Lewis hiding behind selfish, phony proclamations of godliness in the most cowardly way imaginable, and Chris Culliver getting his talking points on homosexuality from Beenie Man.
Oh, and deer-antler spray containing a banned growth factor that spurs production of HGH.
And now here’s a comeback none of us had ever seen, as a game already demoted to the back channels of the mind rekindled into a bizarre, impossible classic that came down to the final possession. The bad (good) parents among us let our grade-schoolers stay up until the post-safety kick return was over, taking the chance to pontificate about the unrushed fair-catch free kick and something called Mac Percival.
I think I saw Jim McMahon promoted as either an actual commentator or as the subject of an interview about his accelerating encephalopathy. Perhaps both at the same time: in the perfect new role for former NFLers, something so about itself and aware of itself as if to embody the postmodern literary ideal.
I think I saw testimonials to the holiness of American farming to make me a buy a pickup truck. I think I saw an accessory to murder in a shower of confetti.
I saw a secular mega-church that was once the site of unspeakable darkness go dark again for long enough that too many people talked about nothing for too long.
There was excess of excess as we expect from a city proud to offer it, only to be interrupted and humanized. Outsized international glamour still needs actual electricity from actual resources, be it burning carbon or split atoms. Laws of thermodynamics don’t care about your prop bets.
I loved the power outage. Loved something bigger and more concretely true than the Super Bowl kneecapping the game itself. And I loved the game itself, too.
Eeriness, discomfort, chaos. Compelling football. Billions of dollars spent everywhere on everything.
This was not one to forget.